On the afternoon of June, 29 1970, area residents picked up their evening copy of The Daily Ardmoreite and the headline read “Howard Crumley Killed.”
The then-34-year old Crumley had served as a member of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol for 5 years.
The Ardmoreite reported in 1970 that “Crumley was running radar near Lone Grove the night before. His radar unit was still on and the red and yellow lights on his patrol car were still flashing when a passing motorist saw him lying in a ditch and called patrol headquarters. The call was logged at 11:58 p.m. Crumley is believed to have died only moments earlier.”
After spending more than 47 years behind bars, Crumley’s killer goes back in front of the state’s parole board Monday. His previous attempt at parole was denied in 2014. Crumley’s family and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol have circulated a petition on the Officer Down Memorial Page, www.odmp.org/noparole/prepare/3672, asking the state parole board to deny Hubert Wilkinson’s request. Petitions can also be sent to directly to the board via jennifer.pando@ppb.ok.gov.
The reporter went on to detail the murder, saying “Crumley was killed with two blasts from his own service revolver, a .41 Magnum. It was to have been the last shift he worked before being transferred to a new
assignment in Locust Grove.”
Crumley, originally from Afton, Oklahoma, a small town in Northeastern Oklahoma, about 50 miles from Locust Grove, had requested a transfer to Locust Grove, which was  approved. He was taking his wife and 3 sons home. The transfer was to take place July 1, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s Officer Down Memorial.
On June 28, Crumley put on his uniform and went to work. Hours later, he was dead, and his killers were on the run.
The Ardmoreite reported, “The only clue officers had to work on was a blood smeared drivers license found next to Crumley’s body. The name on the license was Hubert Wilkinson.”
Wilkinson and his brother Raymond had earlier invaded the home of an elderly man in Comanche. They tied him up “so that his feet were drawn almost up to the back of his head, and apparently robbed him.” Then “they took the man’s own shotgun and blasted away with both barrels at his face.”
After killing Crumley, the duo kidnapped a man and his sister from their Ardmore home. The man was released a short time later, while the sister was forced to drive the Wilkinson brothers around “the Lake Murray area.” Sometime later Raymond turned “a .22 caliber revolver on himself,” and Wilkinson ordered the sister to drive to the Ardmore hospital, where Raymond would later die from his wounds. Wilkinson was later arrested at his brother Melvin’s home, about 8 miles east of Ardmore.
In April 1971, Wilkinson went before District Judge Kenneth Shilling and withdrew his not guilty plea. He then pled guilty to Crumley’s murder and the kidnapping. Shilling sentenced Wilkinson to two life sentences saying, “In view of the fact that a man only has one natural life, I think it would not be unreasonable to order the sentences be served concurrently.”
Wilkinson was convicted of the earlier murder of the elderly Comanche man as well. About 2 years later, Wilkinson would also be convicted of escaping a state penitentiary according to the court docket released by the Oklahoma Parole Board.
Editor’s Note: The historical recount of the night of Crumley’s murder and the events that followed were compiled from the Ardmoreite archives.